It was a rainy, windy reality check for the Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence.
Jacksonville started fast but faded quickly in a sloppy 29-21 loss to the NFC East-leading Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
Everything the Jaguars had done right during their two-game winning streak wasn’t on display in Doug Pederson’s return to the place he delivered a Super Bowl win to in 2017.
The offense was erratic. Lawrence had five turnovers which led to 22 Eagles points. The defense did well against Jalen Hurts (he was picked off and didn’t throw a touchdown) but struggled to stop the run. For the highs and lows of an NFL season this one qualifies as a valley for Pederson and especially Lawrence.
Jacksonville heads back to TIAA Bank Field in Week 5 to face the winless Texans (0-3-1) tied atop the AFC South standings with the Titans (2-2).
“We talk about it all the time. We just have to focus on us. Anytime you make the mistakes we did, turn the ball over like we did, and where we turned the ball over, you’re not going to keep good teams out of the end zone,” Pederson said. “That’s really the difference in the football game. I’m proud of our guys. They fought there until the end to give us a chance to at least see what was going to happen there at the end of the game. It’s just the turnovers and mental errors that really cost us today.”
Outside of a blistering 11 minutes to start the game where they jumped in front 14-0, the Jaguars couldn’t get anything going until the game was out of reach.
Lawrence hit Jamal Agnew for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 7 minutes, 26 seconds to play to get the Jaguars within 29-21 but the Eagles bled the clock down under two minutes and went for it on fourth-and-3 instead of a 38-yard field goal. The Jaguars got the stop but Lawrence was hit and lost his fourth fumble of the game on the ensuing play to wrap up an Eagles win. After going two games without being sacked, Lawrence was sacked four times on Sunday.
“I would start by saying I have to play better. Our defense gave us a chance to win it at the end of the game. I’m just pissed I let those guys down and just had too many turnovers. Obviously it starts with me,” Lawrence said. “All of them were me today so no one else to blame there. To let those guys down it’s disappointing, it felt like we had a chance to win that game and we did and the same thing at the end there.”
His ball security will be a major point of emphasis for Pederson and the coaching staff.
Lawrence was 11 of 23 passing for 174 yards, two touchdowns and interception. His turnovers were the story of the game.
“I think short-term memory, number one. We have to fix those mistakes with him. Correct him, show it, keep teaching him,” Pederson said of Lawrence. “He’s going to be better for it. We’ll be better for it obviously down the road. He’s great about fixing things and being a pro about it. That’s what we expect and he will do that.”
The Jaguars struggled to hold on to the ball and looked ragged on offense. They were dominated in the time of possession category. Receivers dropped six passes. And a defense that had been so good in its start couldn’t slow the Eagles down when it mattered. Philadelphia rushed for 210 yards, sticking it to a Jacksonville defense that entered holding teams to just 55 yards per game.
“I think number one, turnovers. Turnovers hurt,” said receiver Christian Kirk. “And all the stuff we predicate ourselves on, standing in front of the chains, penalties, converting on third down — we just didn’t do it. You don’t want to blame it on conditions. We expect to go out and play our best ball regardless. It’s a tough one, that’s a good football team. So, we definitely are going to be critical of ourselves and look to next week.”
After such a strong start, it was a step back, especially for Lawrence.
Days after earning AFC offensive player of the week honors, Lawrence had a miserable outing in a performance reminiscent of his struggles as a rookie.
He lost two fumbles which the Eagles converted into touchdowns and another that led to a field goal. And Lawrence threw a momentum-killing interception at the Eagles 7 late in the third quarter. Lawrence locked on to Christian Kirk and left it up in the air too long. James Bradberry had an easy angle on it and picked it off. That led to a 28-yard field goal by Jake Elliott and a 23-14 Eagles lead to open the fourth quarter.
“For our defense, I’m sure it’s frustrating for them when offensively you turn the ball over that many times. They just kept going back out there and they had a lot of big stops,” Lawrence said. “Defensively we played good enough to win the game, so that’s why it’s disappointing that we let those guys down.”
That implosion erased what was a sensational start.
Andre Cisco took a tipped interception back 59 yards for a pick six and Lawrence tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Agnew for a 14-0 lead just 11 minutes into the game.
Things spiraled quickly after that.
The Eagles surged back with a dominant second quarter. Lawrence lost a pair of fumbles, including one on a third-and-1 sneak that gave Philadelphia the ball at the Jaguars 35.
The Jaguars had a chance to go up even bigger on Philadelphia early in the second quarter and it’s where things started spinning out of control.
Lawrence overthrew a wide-open Agnew near the goal line on what would have been a walk across the line touchdown. Lawrence then lost a fumble on fourth-and-3 and the Eagles marched down the field and punched in a 3-yard touchdown run by Jalen Hurts to get on the scoreboard, the start of 29 unanswered points.
“I think I have a great feel for this football team. The guys are mad and they’re a little bit ticked off. And they should be. They should hate losing more than they enjoy winning,” Pederson said. “That’s what I told them after the game. Twenty-four hours, we will get in the film room tomorrow and look at it. Fix it, make the corrections, and move on. That’s a good group of men in there and they hurt just like I do. They want it just like I do. We’ll get it fixed.”